Thousands of Serbs have been demonstrating since July 7 in response to President Aleksandar Vucic’s decision to impose a curfew in the country’s capital, Belgrade.
People clashed with police and stormed the National Assembly building several hours after it was announced that a curfew will be reinstated in the Serbian capital under the pretext of a new spike in Covid-19 cases. Clashes left at least 43 police officers injured, including one with a skull fracture. Police officers actively used tear-gas and force in an attempt to disperse protests. Authorities claim that only about 20 protesters were injured by these actions. Activists claim that this number is underestimated.
Serbia, 8th of July pic.twitter.com/Wt7giOw0aX
— dor⁷ | 📌CHECK PINNED HELP SERBIA | сафина жена (@moransupremacy) July 9, 2020
🇷🇸#Belgrade: The crowd outside of the #Serbia|n parliament right now protesting #COVID19 mandates. Earlier hundreds had stormed inside the building before they were driven back by police. pic.twitter.com/8IbxNrT1l3
— The WannabeWonk (@PotempkinBrain) July 7, 2020
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic described the protests in Belgrade as “political violence” influenced from abroad. The president accused “members of right-wing organizations” of instigating the violence.
“The decent citizens, whose dissatisfaction [with the new curfew] was understandable, withdrew [from the protest] and the extremists took over.”
Thus, the Serbian President wants to demonstrate that some ‘foreign forces’ are using the protests to undermine his course.
On the other hand, supporters of protests insist that the government imposed a curfew in Belgrade in an attempt to keep the situation under control as it pushes forward with some controversial decisions that find little understanding among the country’s patriotic segment.
On July 7, President Vucic announced that the new Serbian government will be formed till August 20-25. He added that the current primie minister, Ana Brnabic, will likely keep her post. Earlier, on June 26, the President announced that Serbia can join the European Union by 2026. This statement was made following his meeting with European leaders in Brussels. Vucic emphasized that this government has a great motivation to ‘strengthen the European path’ of Serbia. In the same comments, he note that the government wants to get additional EU funding for infrastructure projects, but for this it’s needed to develop further the negotiations with the current leadership of Kosvo. Experts allso noted that the further raproachment with NATO, and even a possible move to join the military bloc are likely steps on the Serbian path to the ‘European integration’.
Such actions of the government caused a strong criticism among the part of the Serbian population that still knows a bit of history, like the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia or the NATO support to Kosovo radicals. From this point of view, actions of the current Serbian political leadership in Belgrade are an apparent attempt to supress the opposition to the slowly but steadily appearing pro-Western and pro-NATO course of the country.
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